How to celebrate New Year the Dutch way

How to celebrate New Year in the Netherlands – with recipes New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands is celebrated in a most untypical over-the-top way. Here's list of 10 things you must do to fit right in. 1. Buy fireworks – lots of them and enormous ones – if you have not smuggled them in from Belgium or Eastern Europe months ago. This year you can only buy fireworks on December 28, 29 and 30 - and for some reason, garages seem to be popular licenced stockists. Start setting off your fireworks well before 6pm on December 31, which is when you are officially allowed to do so. Frighten dogs. 2. Listen to the final 50 or so entries in Radio 2’s Top2000 which, for some bizarre reason, is listened to by millions of people every year and won every year (almost) by Queen’s Bohemiam Rhapsody. And 2018 is no exception. 3. Watch whichever comedian is giving this year’s televised Oudejaarsconference – a long and winding monologue wrapping up the year. This year it is Youp van 't Hek on NOS tv. 4. Buy a New Year lottery ticket...  More >

Should you change health insurer?

To change or not to change health insurance company? Five key questions There are just a couple of days to go before you have to decide whether or not to change health insurance company. Here's the answers to some of the questions which expats most frequently ask about Dutch health insurance and the healthcare system. Changing healthcare insurance company does not have to be a complicated business. But there are some things you do need to think about before you do. When do I need to pay the deductible excess? The deductible excess (eigen risico) is part of the out-of-pocket medical expenses. Put simply, you have to pay the first €385 of your treatment - with a few exceptions. So, if you need to have a broken arm taken care of on January 2, you will have to pay €385 of the bill yourself. Once you have paid this amount, your health insurance company will reimburse any further medical expenses. Some healthcare costs are exempted from the excess, such as: Consultations with a family doctor Maternity care Healthcare for children below...  More >

Science and faith not mutually exclusive

Christianity has fostered much in the way of scientific progress Science and faith are not on the opposite side of the fence and Christians are responsible for many scientific breakthroughs, says Rob Mutsaerts, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese of 's Hertogenbosch. Richard Dawkins, advocate of scientific and rational thought, is calling on everyone, and  people of faith in particular, to think for themselves. People who believe in God do not think for themselves, he claims, and are cowardly and lazy to boot. Perhaps this is a good time to remind him that Thomas of Aquino promoted Aristotle, that devout priest Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model and that Gregor Mendel, a monk, studied heredity and as such can be considered a precursor of Darwin. Newton, Kepler, Descartes and Pascal, devout Christians all, were the founders of modern science. And what to make of 19th century physicists Faraday, Maxwell and the man who proposed the big bang theory, a priest called Lemaître? And what about religious...  More >

Home for the Christmas holidays?

Going home for the Christmas holidays is about more than nostalgia The winter holiday season in the Netherlands is magical, with all the trees and houses lit up by twinkling lights. But for editor Robin Pascoe, the Christmas period is also about an intangible nostalgia for ‘home’, wherever that is. When I first came to the Netherlands in the early 1980s, Christmas was something that just happened between Sinterklaas and New Year. You had a tree and a family dinner and that was about it. More and more, however, the ghastliness of the British and American traditions is sneaking in. I have been shocked at how much mawkish Christmas nostalgia is being packed into the Dutch television schedules - the same Christmas family films, the same fake snow and the same jolly family get-togethers around a table groaning with Lidl and Plus festive meals. And then I remember how excited I was when we took a double decker bus into London to look at the Christmas lights when I was six and we had just moved to Britain from Singapore and my cynicism...  More >

'The beaches on Terschelling are amazing'

‘The beaches on Terschelling are amazing – you can take fantastic photos’ Veteran journalist Andy Clark has worked for BBC Radio, Radio Television Hong Kong, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The Middlesbrough native, who would like to interview Geert Wilders and loves the Dutch islands, currently lives in Leiden. He now hosts a popular podcast titled Here in Holland. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was working in Hong Kong where I met my wife, Julie, who is also British. We got together and lived there for a while. Then we decided to come back to Europe. My wife grew up here, although she’s British, in the town of Oegstgeest. She was an expat kid for many years and said, ‘well, home for me is the Netherlands’. I said, ‘OK, let’s give it a whirl’. That was in 1998 and I’ve been here ever since. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? International, I guess. I don’t really like these labels very much, to be honest with you, but I would pick ‘international’ out of that list. I’m British...  More >

Go Dutch this Christmas

Add a bit of Dutchness to your Christmas celebrations December is in full swing and that means it is time to begin preparing, enjoying, and celebrating Christmas. A sparkling tree in the living room, the smell of baking biscuits floating out of the oven and Christmas songs on the radio—Christmas celebrations really do start at home. But just how do you give your Christmas that extra touch of 'Dutchness' while living in the Netherlands? Here is a list to inspire you, based on some of the ways the Dutch celebrate Christmas at home. Put up the decorations Whether you are going for all one colour or prefer a multi-coloured effect, putting up the Christmas decorations is a must in the Netherlands. Each year the number of sparkling lights and Christmas baubles increases. However, if you find yourself lacking in inspiration, head over to your nearest Intratuin or other garden centre where they have the most overwhelming choice. Prepare for two Christmas Days The Netherlands celebrates Christmas on both December 25th and December 26th,...  More >

Family fun for the Christmas holidays

From Gouda by candlelight to a Christmas Carol – a round-up of holiday family fun The school holidays are finally coming up! Esther O'Toole has a run down of special Christmas events and activities, for young and old, up and down the country, traditional and alternative; starting on December 15. Countrywide: winter circuses A trip to the circus is a popular Dutch tradition at Christmas. You will find Christmas Circuses all over: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Nijmegen, Sittard…Eindhoven's will be in the Park Theater and offers lots of extra activities for kids throughout the building, so you can really make a day of it. Website Amsterdam: Kerstspel, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ There are more than 10 special events going on at the Muziekgebouw this holiday season. Including a new tradition of their own making - Kerstspel. A modern Christmas concert to inspire your littlens as they watch performers as young as 4 years old perform alongside the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Website Amsterdam: The Christmas Show, Ziggo Dome It wouldn't be the season...  More >

Dutch cats - here's nine things to know

The Dutch love their cats – and here’s the proof They peer down at you from the windows of canal houses and slink past your legs while you’re hanging out in cafes. Indeed, cats definitely seem to be everywhere in the Netherlands. According to one estimate, there’s over 2.8 million of them currently living in the country. Brandon Hartley has nine key facts about Dutch cats Cats in the Kunsthal You can sink your claws into an exposition devoted entirely to cats at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, until January 14, 2018. ‘Cat Love: Nine Lives in the Arts’ takes a look at how felines have been depicted in art from the mid-19th century to modern times. Along with paintings by Henriëtte Ronner-Knip and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and work by contemporary artists including David Shrigley and Wallasse Ting, the show includes tributes to international ‘cat sensations’ like Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. There’s also an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to experience what it’s like to be a feline in the Netherlands. What...  More >

FvD has 'damaging' focus on race

Forum voor Democratie’s focus on race is damaging, says D66 MP D66 MP Jan Paternotte calls the Forum voor Democratie's focus on race 'damaging' and challenges its MPs to face opposition where it can be heard: in a public debate in parliament. ‘Hiddema didn’t say anything wrong, silly Jan Paternotte’. That is how columnist Theodor Holman ended a passionate defence of Forum voor Democratie MP Theo Hiddema in his column in the Parool. This was the same Hiddema who, during a parliamentary debate spoke of a ‘proud, noble negro’ who, he said, would not benefit from a law on incitement of hatred against groups. Holman's comment came only weeks after a radio broadcast in which Hiddema said ‘race mixing’ would be the best way to go for Dutch Moroccans, seeing how reluctant they are to integrate. On Twitter I called Hiddema’s comments an example of his party’s increasingly sickening focus on race. Holman explained that his generation – and Hiddema’s – use the term ‘negroes’ and that to him the word was much less denigrating...  More >

Key facts about top-up health insurance

Supplementary health insurance: what is it and do you need it? Supplementary health insurance policies have been in the news a lot this month, with the central Dutch bank suggesting they could disappear in the future. So what's all the fuss about? Here's a handy guide to what supplementary health insurance policies cover, how they work and whether or not you need one in 2018. What should you look out for when assessing supplementary health policies? Cover The basic health insurance (basisverzekering) is the compulsory part of Dutch health insurance. It covers essential medical healthcare, such as visits to your GP, hospital treatments, emergency medical care and (some) medication. There may be treatment you might want but that is not covered by the basic health policy. Here is a list: Physiotherapy (for non-chronic conditions) Dental care (above 18 years of age) Alternative medicine Orthodontics for children and adults Glasses (or lenses) Podotherapy This is where a supplemental insurance comes in. These optional...  More >

Podcast: The Grinch Stole My Oliebollen

DutchNews podcast – The Grinch Stole My Oliebollen Edition – Week 49 There's not much Christmas cheer in our last podcast of the year, as the Dutch government joins the chorus of disapproval against Donald Trump's latest diplomatic intervention, texting while cycling is officially frowned on, a radio station is pilloried for a sexist prank and Spain comes under fire for its treatment of Morgan the orca. Andre Rieu makes a surprise guest appearance in our sports news, while our end-of-year discussion looks at some of the top 2000 reasons to celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands. Click here to see what you can win in our great Christmas giveaway Top story Dutch government criticises 'counterproductive' Trump statement on Jerusalem News Radio presenter apologises to singer after nude prank sparks backlash Primary school teachers to strike again on December 12 Dutch government pledges to outlaw texting while cycling Spanish aquarium accused of using Morgan the rescued orca for breeding Sport Feyenoord and Vitesse avoid...  More >

'The red light district is beautiful'

Travel blogger, museum guide and Dutch cheese addict Tea Gudek Šnajdar from Haarlem emigrated from Croatia in 2013 in search of adventure. At work or at play, there is nowhere she’s rather be than at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, marvelling at the Golden Age masterpieces. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband and I wanted to go somewhere abroad, and we had this idea while we were both still studying to go somewhere outside Croatia and get an international experience. When we graduated, we said let’s both look for jobs somewhere in Europe. We actually knew very little about the Netherlands before we came, but then my husband got an interview, and then a job offer, and within a month, we were in Amsterdam! It was really fast. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc I would say a little bit of all of them. When I came here I saw myself more as a combination of lovepat and immigrant, but then, today, I think this image of myself...  More >

Great new books to give away

Books, clocks and tulips: we’ve got some great gifts to give away December is a time of giving and that's just what we are doing this month at We've got some great gifts to give away to several lucky readers. NLXL by Karel Tomei The Netherlands might like to consider itself a small country - a kleine kikkerlandje, as the Dutch are so fond of saying - but this is one mighty big book. Karel Tomei's NLXL weighs in at a whopping 3.5 kilos but is such a joy to look at that you will forget the weight on your knees. The book draws on the tradition of birds eye view paintings in which the world is captured from the skies: the intricate patterns of reclaimed land crisscrossed by ditches, the contrast between bulb fields and a golf course, great swathes of sand with a city in the distance, a drone's view of a busy cafe terrace, the intricate carvings on the roof of a cathedral. But it's the landscape that really rules NLXL - the Netherlands might be oh so very flat, but it still has amazing variation in its countryside - from the seaside...  More >

Podcast: The Vial of Fake News Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Poison Chalice of Fake News Edition – Week 48 In this week's podcast we tackle the biggest, blackest hot potato of our times - when and how will the Zwarte Piet debate end? It's been a week of bitterness and recriminations, with a chaotic end to the Yugoslavia tribunals in The Hague and the Dutch government facing accusations of fitting up an airline pilot who spent eight years in an Argentinian jail before being cleared this week of throwing dissidents out of planes in the 1970s. We also pick our favourites from the shortlist for Dutch Word of the Year and look at Ajax's attempts to export their renowned academy system to China – just as Dutch football clubs plunge in the European pecking order. Top story Genocide general smuggles poison vial into The Hague war crimes tribunal News Police trace woman who abandoned boy at Amsterdam Central Station Government urged to improve screening of gay and Christian asylum seekers Anti-Muslim video retweeted by Donald Trump is fake news Pilot Julio Poch plans to sue...  More >

12 great things to do in December

Cats, kings and the American dream: 12 great things to do in December Not everything on the calendar for December is about Sinterklaas and Santa Claus but inevitably lots of events at this time of year are Christmas-themed.  We've got top notch theatre, ice sculptures, cat karaoke and the American dream in our latest listing. Savour some savoir-faire If you haven't bought a single present yet and are not short of a euro or two why not visit the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam for inspiration. Meesterlijk is a three day extravaganza of 'style, specialisms and savoir-faire'. This is an event all about designer goods and handcrafted stuff. It's also a 'recyclable total concept' which we think might be a good thing. December 1,2,3. Website Slide on the ice Scheveningen is not only the scene of the traditonal new year's plunge (see further down) it also has another icy surprise in store: the Ice EXPO, featuring a multitude of ice sculptures inspired by Scheveningen's glorious past as a watering hole for the Den Haag posh and the not so posh. Next door...  More >

Gender-neutral marketing hits Holland

No more Hema and Shema: Gender-neutral marketing hits the Netherlands This is your last weekend to pack in the pre-Sinterklaas shopping. So will it be pink for the girls and blue for the boys? Gender-neutral marketing has finally arrived in the Netherlands but, as Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports, not everyone is happy. In June 2015, following a particularly depressing visit to toy store Bart Smit - whose signage suggested that my five-year-old daughter had no business looking at toys that had to do with engineering, natural history or science – I poked my head above the Twitter parapet and tweeted my frustration. The backlash was unanticipated: I was a drama queen; a ghastly feminist; I was lying. I concluded that the Netherlands was simply not ready to engage in this particular conversation and left it well alone. Nevertheless, I was bemused. Toys R Us in Sweden went gender-neutral in 2013 and Australia launched the No Gender December campaign in 2014, urging people to ‘Buy gifts not stereotypes’. The UK-based campaign Let Toys Be Toys reported...  More >

British ambassador reassures Brits in NL

‘We want British citizens in NL to continue to live as they do now’ With European leaders due to meet in Brussels next month, the time is right to press on with negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, says  ambassador Peter Wilson says in an open letter to British nationals in the Netherlands. On 14 and 15 December the leaders of the European Union member states will meet in Brussels for the December gathering of the European Council.  The council comes together after months of talks which have generated a huge amount of media reporting and comment.  It is our firm belief that the time to move on to the next phase of negotiations is now. I have met many British nationals across the Netherlands during our open forums, and I know that they are uncertain and worried about the consequences of the UK’s departure from the European Union. I want to be able to offer as much certainty as possible both to British nationals and to businesses here in the Netherlands. For that reason it is essential that we get on with discussing...  More >

Amsterdammers and the EMA

Amsterdammers moan about the arrival of the EMA (but then they would) Macro-economist Mathijs Bouman looks at the reactions of the inhabitants of the Dutch capital to the news that the European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam.  And of course, he says, they are moaning about it. It’s party time in Amsterdam. Wouter Bos has pulled it off. Not until the last round, mind you, and thanks to the luck of the Amsterdammers but mostly because of a clever and intensive lobby which made sure the capital was a contender at all. As soon as Brexit happens the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is leaving London for Amsterdam. Some 900 medicine experts will be making the move as well, taking their families - and their highly-valued purchasing power- with them. Grumblings Great news, you might think, but not a day had passed before the first grumblings were heard. According to Amsterdam-based urban sociologist Jan Rath, the agency will only bring more trouble to a city already struggling with housing problems. Houses in Amsterdam are expensive...  More >

Podcast: The Random Boners Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Random Descriptions of Boners Edition – Week 47 We look back on a week of thwarted protests as MPs fail to talk out a bill to scrap a tax break for homeowners and the A7 motorway is gridlocked by the Zwarte Piet debate. Amsterdam emerges as the first big winner in the Great Brexit Clearance Sale (and immediately frets about the effect on house prices), the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague delivers its verdict on the Butcher of Bosnia and a Dutch men's sports team shocks Europe by winning a match. In our discussion we ask which Dutch books you can safely buy your relatives for Christmas. Top story Filibuster attempt fails to scupper bill to abolish homeowners' tax break News Amsterdam to be new home of European Medicines Agency after Brexit Zwarte Piet supporters block motorway to stop protesters heading for Sinterklaas parade The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity Breda and Almere named best city centres in Netherlands (NOS, Dutch) Sport Feyenoord's dismal...  More >

How to get on as a woman in tech

How to get on as a woman in tech? Trust in your individuality Earlier this month, over 1,000 women (and a few men) piled into the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam to take part in the specialist European Women In Tech conference. Esther O'Toole was among the delegates. It was just last week that ING economists forecast the Dutch technology sector will need to recruit a massive120,000 workers over the next 12 years if it is to maintain current growth trends. Between 20% and 25% of companies in the sector say staff shortages are now becoming a problem - a statistic making it even more crucial that ambitious women wake up to the opportunities that the technology sector presents. In Europe as a whole, around a third of science, technology, engineering and maths university graduates are female, although in the Netherlands the figure is nearer 25%.   Nevertheless, the number of women holding high level jobs in the technology world remains noticeably low. Interest The two-day European Women in Tech conference is a young event - this...  More >